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Steven Redzikowski

Chef Steven Redzikowski
Photo © Justin Lee

Restaurant: Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn (Read a review)

Location: Boulder, CO; Denver

Why He's Amazing: Because after starting his career at Le Cirque at age 21, he's raising the bar on the Colorado food scene with his two seasonally focused restaurants—one centered around a unique oak-fired oven and grill (Oak), the other a super-hip shared-plates spot (Acorn).

Culinary School: Schenectady County Community College (Schenectady, NY)

Background: Little Nell (Aspen, CO); Cyrus (Healdsburg, CA); Frasca Food & Wine (Boulder); Jean-Georges, Le Cirque (New York City)

Quintessential Dish: Kale and apple salad with candied almonds, Parmesan and togarashi (a mainstay at both restaurants)

Chef He Admires: "Jean-Georges Vongerichten. I've never seen any cleaner person work or run a kitchen. He's definitely what they say he is."

Childhood Food Memory: "We had pasta and red sauce every single night. Some nights, you'd get the eggplant parm, and on some days, you'd get manicotti, but whatever it was that [my mom] made, it was always with red sauce. "

What He Enjoys Most about His Job: "The close connection I have with all of my kitchen staff. It's a second family, and while it can drive you crazy, it also motivates me to do better. Being a mentor to a cook is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world."

What's Influencing the Restaurant Industry Today: "Something old that's new again: the return of wood-fired cooking."

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.